ISLAMABAD: PTI Chairman Imran Khan faces four legal proceedings -- all of them pose serious threats to his political career.
Khan’s failure to save himself from any of these four legal proceedings would mean his disqualification from politics. These legal threats to his political career, at a time when he is considered at the top of his popularity, include two contempt proceedings, Speaker NA reference in Toshakhana case and mis-declaration in PTI’s foreign funding case. These cases include:
IHC Contempt case: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday issued a show-cause notice to Imran Khan and summoned him on August 31 in contempt of court case. The IHC took suo moto notice and initiated the contempt proceedings against Imran Khan, who last week in a rally staged in solidarity with his close aide Shahbaz Gill in the capital, had warned while naming Islamabad’s additional sessions judge for granting physical remand of Gill on the police request, that she should brace herself for consequences. He said he would take action against her.
According to legal experts, this is a serious nature of contempt proceeding that Imran Khan faces. Khan’s threat to the woman Additional Sessions Judge of the Islamabad Capital Territory is not considered an ordinary contempt of an individual judge but the entire judiciary and an attempt to obstruct justice. Conviction in such a case carries conviction of disqualification from holding any public office for five years.
ECP Contempt case: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) last week issued contempt notices to PTI leaders Imran Khan, Fawad Chaudhry and Asad Umar for levelling allegations at the electoral body and Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja.
The electoral body directed the opposition leaders to appear before it in person or submit their response through their lawyers on August 31. The ECP contempt notices were issued to the PTI chief Imran Khan for using “insulting and unparliamentary remarks” against the electoral body in various speeches.
The commission had said it issued notices after reviewing speeches of the PTI leaders which were provided by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on the electoral body’s request. The ECP has sought clarification from the PTI leaders on allegations hurled against it. If the ECP convicts an individual of contempt, it too carries disqualification from holding any public office for five years.
Toshakhana Reference: The Toshakhana Reference, sent by the NA Speaker to ECP against Imran Khan, is the most serious legal threat to the PTI as it alleges concealment of assets in Khan’s declaration before the commission.
The SC had removed former PM Nawaz Sharif and had disqualified him for life for failing to disclose in his nomination papers “unwithdrawn receivables”. In the case of Imran Khan, he allegedly did not disclose the proceeds of Toshakhana gifts in his annual assets declaration, which was submitted before the ECP. Khan had declared these assets a year or two later only when the media had focused on the Toshakhana scandal and alleged that he had sold some of these gifts.
The parallel between Nawaz and Imran cases is that both the leaders had made their declaration regarding their assets before the ECP. In the case of Nawaz Sharif, he did not declare what he had not received but was receivable. In the case of Imran Khan, he did not declare what he had received through the proceeds of Toshakhana gifts. Khan declared them only in a later declaration.
Nawaz Sharif had made his declaration in his nomination paper for the 2013 elections, which his party won and led to his third tenure as the prime minister of Pakistan. Imran Khan made this declaration during his premiership and as part of the mandatory legal requirement for all members of parliament to annually submit their declaration regarding their assets and liabilities.
Non-declaration in PTI Foreign Funding case: Following the ECP’s recent decision in the PTI Foreign Funding case, legal questions are also being raised about Imran Khan’s certification of the PTI funding and whether he is liable to be penalised for certifying grossly wrong facts about the nature of such funding. However, what is really grave in nature is the non-declaration of two bank accounts that Imran Khan had opened with his own signatures but yet not shown to the ECP in the foreign funding case. This case, if it could not be defended by Imran Khan, will invoke Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution, which carries lifetime disqualification.
In all the above cases, Imran Khan if convicted would have the opportunity of appeal before the apex court.
Ghazala Gola is PPP President Women Wing Balochistan and former provincial minister of Balochistan
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